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October 28 marked the fifth anniversary of the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar, As a young woman from Galway, her story has stuck with me for the past five years, and served as a reminder of the dangers of the Eighth Amendment, writes reader Suzanne Coombs
I hope to start a family of my own some day, and to think I could end up in the same situation is, quite frankly, terrifying.
Her untimely death was caused by legal uncertainty as a result of the Eighth Amendment and unfortunately very little has changed. When my sister became pregnant, I pleaded with her to return home to the UK to give birth for precisely that reason.
She was my living, breathing, sister and I was worried for her safety if anything were to go wrong in Ireland. I didn’t trust that she would be prioritised and I’m glad I convinced her not to stay.
Pro-choice groups nationwide held vigils on Saturday to honour Savita’s memory and ensure that another tragedy like this can never happen again. Pro-life groups, on the other hand, held a so-called Street Blitz in many towns and cities to distribute literature.
I don’t believe that handing out leaflets which call for the retention of the laws which contributed to her death should have been handed out on her anniversary.
It seems to me that certain pro-life groups and individuals aren’t concerned with honouring Savita’s memory at all, for example, the offensive comments recently made by Senator Rónán Mullen about Savita.
The time has come for us as a country to take responsibility for what happened to Savita and change our laws.
It’s well past time we put women to the forefront and begin to respect their autonomy over their bodies, their ability to make decisions for themselves and their health and well-being in pregnancy and childbirth.
The Eighth Amendment never belonged in the Constitution. In 2018 we have the chance to put that to rights and to trust and care for women, we have the chance to repeal the Eighth Amendment, for me and for women like me, I sincerely hope we do.
Suzanne Coombs, Galway
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